The International Court of Justice [official website] on Wenesday scheduled a public hearing [press release] to resolve a dispute over an Indian man accused of spying after receiving notice [press release] from Indian officials that a Pakistani military court has sentenced the man to death [JURIST report]. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, an Indian national and former member of the Indian Navy, has been in custody in Pakistan since March of 2016. Pakistani officials claim that Jadhav was detained in Balochistan province following his “involvement in espionage and terrorist activities,” while India’s request to the ICJ claims he was “kidnapped” in Iran. In their request, which asks the ICJ to stay Jadhav’s execution until the matter is resolved [statement], India claims that Pakistan has violated numerous provisions of the Vienna Convention by failing to grant consular access to Jadhav, failing to inform him of his rights, and failing to inform Indian officials of his detention and charges until long after his arrest.
[India] states that Mr. Jadhav will be subjected to execution unless the Court indicates provisional measures directing the Government of Pakistan to take all measures necessary to ensure that he is not executed until th[e] Court’s decision on the merits of the case. India points out that Mr. Jadha’s execution would cause irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India.
The hearing is set for May 15.
The Pakistani military court that sentenced Jadhav to death is one of nine courts established in January of last year after Taliban militants attacked children in the Peshawar school massacre [BBC archive; JURIST report], killing 134 students and 19 adults. Military power was subsequently expanded, giving military courts jurisdiction to try civilians accused of terrorism despite the country’s civilian government. Critics argue that the new procedures defer too much power to the military. Allegations of torture and judicial abuse were widespread during the reign of previous Pakistani military courts. However, many Pakistanis support the military courts due to the crumbling civilian system. Pakistan’s use of the death penalty since December 2014 in both the civilian and military courts has faced widespread criticism. When the country’s six-year death penalty moratorium was lifted [JURIST report] that month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [official profile] said the death penalty would only be applied to terrorism-related cases. However, in March of last year the Pakistan Ministry of Interior lifted the country’s moratorium on the death penalty, permitting hangings for all prisoners [JURIST report] who have exhausted all possible appeals. The UN estimates that several hundred of the 8,000 inmates on Pakistan’s death row are minors [JURIST report].